Thursday, April 9, 2009

SRI LANKA: The first week.

The first week has gone very well, with a great deal of progress completed on the homes. The group has been amazing. A good balance of work and relaxation.

It has been wonderful to see our old, dear friends Ruwan, Deepal. Anil, Rohan and especially Jo-Anne Fletcher who has been here since August in a volunteer capacity to support the Kamloops-DWC-Tangalle initiatives. Great hot sunny day have been spent unpacking, organizing, beaching, swimming and lunch. The "cocktails informal orientation" included individual introductions and update on TRIP, DWC and all the activities in Tangalle. The food is always amazing! In particular, the first Sunday curry buffet at Palm Paradise... amazing!

The first full day we visited the village community centre and had a wonderful tea reception from people in and around the community – early New Years to celebrate our arrival – KettakallaWatta.
We met the families and toured the three homes where our group will be working on. Of course there are logistics to take care of and this meant a "Tour of Tangalle" to show all the volunteer participants the bank, internet, and shopping. We also visited the Tangalle Trades Training Facility that the previous Developing World Connections group worked so hard on. And all of this before lunch! After lunch we divided into three groups and worked for the rest of the day.

At Vijay’s house the group painted and plastered. Susan’s team returned covered in white paint but there must have been some on the walls! Vijay and family lived in an original structure, comprised of two small rooms for the past 15 years. The addition of one large main room and two small bedrooms have been added, over the next weeks the work to be completed on home include continued plastering, priming and painting the new additions. By the second project day The team, including Vijay and family began plastering one exterior wall and one bedroom, lots of cement preparation and heavy manual labour. Two coats of primer completed on two original rooms.
At Predeep’s home, the outside walls built to linter, some inside wall work was done – all the rest is opportunity – go Bruce’s team! This original structure has been erected for over 18 years. A rough layout of five rooms, building was recently completed just past foundation level. The Team worked alongside Predeep, family and friends to build up to ceiling height all around the house, in addition to patching all older bricks that were unstable.

At Nilantha’s house good progress was made with major addition to house. The focus is plastering for the awesome Amelie’s team. The original structure consisted of one large room with the addition of two new smaller rooms. The days consisted of the smaller rooms being plastered and the Team worked on sifting sand to remove pebbles and rocks to prepare to make concrete. By the second day the concrete was mixed and the smaller rooms were being plastered, with one full room completed.

The evenings consisted of swimming, laughing, dinner and drinks. Rest and relaxation is well deserved!

On March 31st, the entire group met at the KettakallaWatta Community Centre for lunch. It was the first time that Angie, co-leader, was able to experience the village since volunteering on the first team trip in 2007. Truly a surreal moment.

By the end of the first week, much progress had been made. It was a week full of helping hands, laughter, and hard work but there was time for rest and relaxation too.

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